Category: Alumni

New Team Member Offering More at the Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute

Dr. Stephanie Groves (left) is our newest team member at the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute. A West Michigan native, she graduated fromMichigan Technological University with a Ph.D in Biological Sciences – Microbiology. Her doctorate research was focused on the optimization of yeast strains and fermentation conditions for the production of fuel ethanol from woody biomass. She also received her BS and MS from Michigan Tech in Microbiology.Her areas of specialty are industrial microbiology, bioprocess engineering, and fermentation science. In addition, she has work in the brewing industry as a QA/QC manager. Some projects she will be working on at the institute are defining the relationship between sensory analysis data and the chemical composition of wine and optimizing the fermentation of acidic musts. She will also be working on a program to offer the area wineries microbiology testing services.

Read more here.


Professor Jack Holland passes away.

Jack Calvin Holland
March 5, 2013
From The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK – Jack Calvin Holland, a resident of Hancock, died on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at his home. He was born on March 11, 1925 in Alameda, Calif., son of Calvin and Della (Chart) Holland of Bessemer, Mich. He graduated from Bessemer High School in 1942 and attended Michigan Tech until 1943 when he enlisted in the Navy. Jack served during WW II in the South Pacific on sub chasers and participated in the re-invasion of Corregidor in the Philippine Islands. He was discharged in 1946 and returned to Michigan Tech where he obtained Bachelors and Masters degrees in Chemical Engineering.

The Copper Range Mining Company first employed him at Freda, as a chemical engineer in the research that led to the opening of the White Pine Mine in 1950. He then moved to Duluth where he served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota (Duluth) and consulted at St. Luke’s Hospital as a Clinical Chemist. He later directed The Duluth Clinic Medial Laboratories for ten years.

He returned to Michigan Tech in 1963 and earned his Doctoral degree in Chemistry specializing in Biochemistry. He acted as Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science (Medical Technology) degree program until his retirement as a full professor in 1988.

During his teaching career at Michigan Tech he was responsible for the graduation of over 1000 Clinical Laboratory Science Bachelor degree students, 16 Biological Sciences Masters students, and two Biological Sciences Doctoral students. His research work extended from award winning publications in clinical chemistry and cancer research to extensive work with the DNR on the blood chemistry of the Michigan deer herd. Several of his students performed research on the blood chemistry of the Finnish people of the Copper Country including research on the Finnish sauna. One of his doctoral students performed research on the chemistry of the hibernation phenomenon of woodchucks and the application of hibernation to human space exploration.

In 1949 he married Joan Maki, who graduated from Michigan Tech that year with a degree in chemistry and a registry in Medical Technology. They had three children and celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in September of 2012.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; daughters, Jeanne (Alan) Karkkainen, Janice (Earl) Brogan, and June (Robert) Klein; his grandsons Matthew (Bridgett) Karkkainen, Kevin (Carol) Karkkainen, Adam (Courtney) Karkkainen, and Patrick (Kate) Brogan; and great-grandchildren Annika and Anderson Karkkainen, Charlie and Mac Brogan and Owen Karkkainen.

He was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Megan Brogan, and a great-granddaughter, Keira Karkkainen.

Dr. Holland frequently described his teaching at Michigan Tech a pleasure because of the intellectual quality of the students. He felt that his highest honors were receiving the Distinguished Teacher Award. On retirement, his faculty and students created the Jack Holland Scholarship in his name (Jack Holland Med Tech Endowed Scholarship at mtu.edu) which continues to help many Michigan Tech students reach their career goals at this time. Jack requested that, in lieu of flowers, gifts be given to the scholarship fund.

Arrangements will be private, per Jack’s request. The Jukuri-Antila Funeral Home of Hancock is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at antilafuneral.com.


Tackling the Last Taboo

Photo by Stacey Frankenstein-Markon
Photo by Stacey Frankenstein-Markon

Article by Jennifer Donovan

How a Peace Corps volunteer from Michigan Tech helped women in Uganda take charge of their periods and control of their lives

They use what?” Stacey Frankenstein-Markon gasped. A graduate student in Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International program in applied science education, she had just arrived in Uganda as a Peace Corps volunteer. And she’d just found out that girls in her African village of Bukedea used rags, old socks, or wads of newspaper to do the job of sanitary napkins.

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Wolf Man

Photo by Dan Stahler/NPS
Photo by Dan Stahler/NPS

Article by David McKay Wilson

Eco-tourists are lined up on a roadside in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Canyon to witness two wolf packs jockeying for territory, and wildlife biologist Doug Smith ’88 is nearby with a TV crew shooting footage of the predator that has captivated mankind for eons.

It’s been seventeen years since Smith helped launch the effort to restore wolves to the 2 million-acre park. Today, an estimated ninety-eight wolves in ten packs thrive in Yellowstone. On this crisp February morning, the lanky Smith, dressed in his green wool Park Service uniform with a pair of Nikon binoculars dangling from his neck, talks about how wolves have reacted to the decline in the park’s elk herd, their prime prey.

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Outstanding Young Alumni

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented each year by the Alumni Association to alumni under the age of 35 who have distinguished themselves in their careers. The award recognizes the achievement of a position or some distinction noteworthy for one so recently graduated. The following Biological Sciences alumni have previously received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award:

  • James L. Voogt (1966)
  • James D. Brodeur (1968)
  • Jeffrey M. Jentzen (1975)
  • Douglas G. Harris (1986)
  • Darla I. Olson (1993)


Origins of the Computer Simulation Program in Biology at Michigan Tech

by James D. Spain (Written Spring 2012)

Jim Spain
Jim Spain

In 1969, while we were picking out the equipment for our new Chemistry-Biological Science building, one of the items that we chose was an Olivetti Programma-101. This was a programmable calculator that could be used for carrying out repetitive calculations, statistical analysis, and data analysis in general. We had little difficulty agreeing that it was something the department needed, as all recognized that this was the direction of the future. When it arrived, perhaps a year before we went into the new building, it was moved into Spain’s office to enable him to learn how to use it. It turned out to be a large, heavy piece of equipment, at least twice as big as an IBM typewriter. It could be programmed by typing in a series of two-character commands, such as A^, B+ and C<. These commands caused numbers to be moved from storage “registers” (B, C, D or E) to the accumulator (A), where one would carry out some numerical operation based on the contents of some other register, then exchange the result with what was in one of the other registers. The memory would hold 32 such commands. These commands and the contents of the registers could be stored on an 8×2-inch card with magnetic backing. The output consisted of a paper tape printout, which could list the program, print input, or data output. Since it behaved somewhat like a computer, it was called a “microcomputer”. It also might have been called a desktop computer, however that term was not prevalent at the time.


Notes on the Startup of Research in Aquatic Ecology

by James D. Spain (Written Spring 2012)

Spain's Lab
Spain's Lab

In 1968, the department began a study of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Waterway, as it was felt that Michigan Tech had great potential in this area, being located very near to the geographical center of the big lake. Despite this fact, little significant research in either biology or chemistry of this great resource had been done at Michigan Tech. Otherwise, Lake Superior research was being carried on at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD), and to a small extent by the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin. So, it was obvious that great potential existed in a very interesting area for research.


The Development of the Degree in Clinical Lab Science at Michigan Tech

by Jack C. Holland

Written in Winter 2011-12

Clinical Laboratory science began to develop in the 1920s and 1930s. Most of the work was done by pathologists or physicians in private office practice. Eventually the office nurse would find this to be part of her duties. In the 1930s the degree of Medical Technology was instituted to separate the analytical needs of the profession from the hands on nursing. World War II had a profound effect the whole medical field; money was made available for better medical instrumentation and all medical training was expanded. At the end of the war in 1946 hospitals were developing large, well equipped pathology laboratories and the new wartime doctors were trained to use them. The new degree in Medical Technology was appealing to both men and women who found it satisfying to help people with scientific analysis rather than the hands on work done by other medical professionals.


Early Days of the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Tech


by James D. Spain
Written Spring 2012

After some 40 years as strictly a mining school, the Board of Control of Michigan College of Mines, in 1926, decided to add several new degree programs: B.S. in Chemistry, B.S. in Biology, and B.S. in General Engineering. They also decided to change the name of the college to Michigan College of Mining and Technology. Most of these plans were accepted by the State Legislature, but the formation of a biology department was to wait an additional 36 years before fruition.


An Account of the Beginning Years of the Department of Biological Sciences

[image R Brown]

by Robert T. Brown
Written about 1973

At the October 13, 1961 meeting of the Board of Control, it was moved, seconded and passed unanimously, that a Department of Biological Sciences be created as of July 1, 1962, utilizing existing staff members and facilities.

With this action, Robert T. Brown and Kenneth J. Kraft from the Department of Forestry, James D. Spain and Ira H. Horton from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Robert A. Janke from the Department of Physics were joined into the new department.  Brown, Kraft and Janke shared a large office in Hubbell School.  Horton continued to occupy his office and laboratory in Koenig Hall.